Footsie gets off to difficult start

The FTSE 100 Index got off to another difficult start today, sinking back below the 4200 mark after a fresh sell-off on Wall Street last night.

The FTSE 100 Index got off to another difficult start today, sinking back below the 4200 mark after a fresh sell-off on Wall Street last night.

The benchmark index sank more than 16 points in the opening minutes of trading before recovering some ground to sit 5.4 points off its opening mark at 4196.8 an hour into the session.

With little by way of corporate results expected in London, traders had an eye on the battle for supermarket group Safeway.

With Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt widely expected to publish the findings of the UK Competition Commission probe into the takeover battle later in the day, fortunes of the key players were mixed as traders assessed their various chances.

Favourite William Morrison inched ahead with a 0.75p gain to sit at 220.75p and Safeway itself was also on positive ground – up 3p at 299.5p.

But the UK’s number one supermarket, Tesco, eased half a penny to 234.5p and rival Sainsbury’s fell 1.5p to 276.25p.

Outside the top flight, retail takeovers were also in focus after a report that private equity group Permira could up its bid for high street department store Debenhams, which climbed 1p to 467p.

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